A fellow Catholicmom.com contributor, Deanna Bartalini, and I spent time at the Digital Discipleship Network Summit last month. So I thought it might be good to share how technology can be a powerful tool to help us practice our faith in practical and contemporary ways. We are just about two weeks away from the beginning of Lent and the time many of us will ponder the question,"what should I give up for Lent?" While the season calls for prayer, fasting and almsgiving, most just seem to focus on "sacrifice." Although we are called during the Lenten season to be drawn into the wilderness like Jesus to be refined in the face of the devil's tempting as outlined in Luke 4:1-13, many have watered down the season as a time to give up our favorite food, social media or something temporal. This sacred time should be used to give time to spiritual practices that can bring you closer to Jesus during Lent and sustain you the whole year through.

Let's start with finding time to pray using technology

Our church has many beautiful forms of prayer practices that connect us to Christ when we do them. However, many of us struggle with finding the time to really withdraw from the busyness of the day to enter into prayerful time with our Lord. There are so many technological tools that can help you carve time out each day to be prayerful.
A time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time throw away. (Ecclesiastes 3:6)
Scripture outlines in God's order there is a time for everything. For me, finding prayer pockets of time in my day is so important, but so challenging with all the things to do each day. That's why using my phone really helps me to navigate my Lenten iourney. Linking my calendar and turning on notifications helps me to ensure full participation in this sacred season. Setting calendar reminders for Fridays not to eat meat and daily reminders to pray really works! I remember really struggling with a feeling of being overwhelmed and was traveling for work a lot and went to the app store to find a rosary app to listen to on flights. The rosary I listen to has a litany as a part of it, and when it plays it touches my soul deeply. It helps me feel a connection to the Holy Spirit in that moment, opening my mind, ears, eyes, and heart to hear what the Lord's will is for me in that day. There are many Catholic apps available that you may download to your phone to have access to prayers in the palm of your hand anytime day or night. My favorite ones that add an element of meditation to my prayer time are "Pray as You Go" and my new favorite, "Hallow." Hallow actually has a 40-day Lenten Journey option that you tap every day; you may select the meditation to be 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Other times, when my day calls for long drives, I listen to Catholic books through Audible in the car. A great benefit of an audiobook versus a tactile one is that you know how long it takes to read it. Knowing how long a book is, in time versus number of pages, enables you to schedule a little time each day for reading spiritual books as a part of your Lenten journey. Also, listening to a Catholic podcast during drives is a wonderful way to fold prayer into your day too. Another powerful way to draw yourself into intimate time with the Lord is through a retreat experience. Unfortunately, time constraints limit people's availability to participate in the traditional retreat center experience. That's why I love the Ignatian 3-minute-retreats: they are a great way to start my day or wind down after a long one and available via the website and as an app.

How technology can help you with the Friday fast during Lent

If you are like me sometimes it pops into my mind after the first bite that I'm supposed to be fasting! Again, your electronic calendar serves as a perfect tool to send you notifications on Thursday night or Friday morning to remind you to fast and or abstain. There are also apps to help you fast during Lent. There are two that I have used to help me stay on track. The first is LentSanity, an app that helps you to remember not to eat meat on Fridays and offers other helpful Lenten-themed content. The second one is probably one that many of you have grown up with: the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl app. This app provides you with meatless recipes; you can also track your sacrifices. This app also offers a full Lenten calendar of daily reflections.

Almsgiving is easily done through websites and apps

I've already mentioned the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl app that also has a virtual rice bowl for you to fill as part of your Lenten experience. Many of us have a routine of buying a cup of coffee or even something for lunch. During Lent, as a sacrifice, if you would abstain from that cup of coffee or take your lunch instead of buying it a few times a week, you could offer that money as alms to a worthy charity. Many parish and diocesan pages have social media, websites, or crowdfunding pages where you can donate money to benefit a ministry or project to help the needy. Take the time now to discern how you will give alms during Lent. Last, but certainly not least, use an online tool to journal about your experience during the Lenten season. Download from the app store the Prayer Notebook. You can also just journal by a simple text string to yourself, a note in your calendar each day, or create a story in social media to chronicle the journey. I hope some of the tools shared in this article help you to have a more engaging Lenten season this year!

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Copyright 2019 Sherry Hayes-Peirce